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“Nothing is worth risking war, much less nuclear war. No side wants war in Ukraine, and certainly not the people of Ukraine. Someone must find the courage to push back against the momentum toward war, and lead the way toward cooperation and disarmament,”  said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of women-led grassroots organization, Code Pink.

President Biden has ordered 8,500 U.S. troops to be on heightened alert for possible deployment to Eastern Europe, exacerbating a conflict that could easily result in war between the world’s two most heavily armed nuclear states — the United States and Russia.

The organization Code Pink recommends that we must immediately demand that NATO, the U.S., Russia and Ukraine pursue vigorous diplomacy for a negotiated solution.

It is terrifying to think that there are those in our country and in our world who prefer war to diplomacy — perhaps for capitalist or imperialist reasons — and there are those who prioritize those reasons more than the innocent hearts of citizens, their wishes and their safety.

This is all happening within a week of the death of Thich Nhat Hanh, the beloved Buddhist monk who died at age 95 on Jan. 22. Nhat Hạnh was a Vietnamese peace activist.

“All violence is injustice. Responding to violence with violence is injustice, not only to the other person but also to oneself,” Nhat Hạnh said, commenting on President Bush’s response to the 9/11 attacks.

Amazingly, Jan. 22, was also the one-year anniversary of the Ban Treaty or Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). On Jan. 22, 2021, the United Nations officially adopted the Ban Treaty (currently signed by 86 countries) into international law, and it prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.

While the United States has not yet signed on to the treaty, the Ban Treaty has officially made nuclear weapons illegal under international law. (Incidentally, Denver has signed on to the treaty.)

In 2021, the Biden Administration changed U.S. policies in some ways that made the world safer:

  • Agreeing to an extension of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty and beginning strategic stability talks with Russia
  • Announcing that the United States would seek to return to the Iran nuclear deal
  • Rejoining the Paris climate accord

But U.S. relations with Russia and China remain tense, with all three countries engaged in an array of nuclear modernization and expansion efforts:

  • China’s possibly large-scale program to increase its deployment of silo-based long-range nuclear missiles
  • The push by Russia, China and the United States to develop hypersonic missiles
  • The continued testing of anti-satellite weapons by many nations.

If not restrained, these efforts could mark the start of a new nuclear arms race.

Other nuclear concerns, including North Korea’s unconstrained nuclear and missile expansion and the (as yet) unsuccessful attempts to revive the Iran nuclear deal contribute to growing dangers. Ukraine remains a potential flashpoint, and Russian troop deployments to the Ukrainian border heighten day-to-day tensions.

If we disagree with this momentum, we must let it be known.